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China a rising star in regenerative medicine despite world skepticism of stem cell therapies
Date:1/7/2010

powerhouse mixed with controversial clinical application of stem cell therapies," says Dr. Singer, MRC's Director. "The overall picture at the moment is ambiguous but in the future, given the measures that have been put in place, the science can be expected to rise and the controversy to fall."

Regenerative medicine an interdisciplinary field of research and clinical applications focused on the repair, replacement or regeneration of cells, tissues or organs to restore impaired function resulting from any cause, including congenital defects, disease, trauma and aging. It uses a combination of several converging technological approaches, both existing and newly emerging, that moves it beyond traditional transplantation and replacement therapies. The approaches often stimulate and support the body's own self-healing capacity. These approaches may include the use of soluble molecules, gene therapy, stem cell transplants, tissue engineering, and the reprogramming of cell and tissue types.

MRC researchers report that until May 2009 clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of stem cell therapies were not required. Now proof of safety and efficacy through clinical trials is required by China's Ministry of Health for all stem cell and gene therapies.

The change was made after international experts, joined by top Chinese researchers, protested that treatment centers were acting "against commonly accepted principles of modern scientific research" and successfully called on China to regulate new treatments and ensure patient safety.

Despite the new rules, however, stem cell treatments are still available at over 200 hospitals across China to patients of diseases such as ataxia, Lou Gehrig's disease, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, diabetes, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, autism, cerebral palsy, stroke, optic nerve hypoplasia and many others.

"To our knowledge, Chinese policy makers and ethicists are working ou
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Source:Eurekalert

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